Portugal’s temperate climate conditions and diverse landscape make it an ideal destination to explore by bike, with mountains, beaches, ancient villages and forests all within short distances of each other. Whether you’re looking for a long-distance challenge or to enjoy the scenery on a leisurely ride, here are five routes to tackle on two wheels.
1. Coastal Camino Português
The 173-mile Coastal Camino Português is the quieter alternative to the Central Camino Português, the official Portuguese section of the Camino de Santiago. Starting in the UNESCO-listed city of Porto, the old pilgrim way winds in and out of northern Portugal’s seaside towns and fishing villages, eventually crossing over to Spain through the estuaries of Rías Baixas. Much of the coastal route north of Porto is made up of dedicated cycle lanes and, like the rest of the Portuguese coastline, forms part of the long-distance European cycling route EuroVelo 1, also known as the Atlantic Coast Route.
2. Guadiana Grande Randonnée
Zigzagging alongside the Spanish border, the 40-mile Guadiana Grande Randonnée takes in the Algarve’s three main sub-regions: the southern littoral (coast), inner barrocal (a strip of clay and limestone hills) and serra (mountainous area) up north. Highlights include the view from the town of Castro Marim over the patchwork of saltpans that produce the Algarve’s ‘white gold’, as well as the hamlet of Guerreiros do Rio, where the River Museum celebrates fishing heritage. Keen cyclists can combine this itinerary with the Coastal Ecovia route, which follows the Algarve’s eastern coastline.
3. Rota Vicentina
While mostly hugging the Atlantic coastline on one side, the Rota Vicentina’s long-distance network of cycling paths has off-road sections that will see you pedalling through quaint villages. Mountain or gravel bikes can be easily hired in most towns, and the trail, which combines quiet roads and shared-use paths, can be cycled in segments suitable for all fitness levels. Opt for the network’s Touring Bike itinerary, a non-signposted, GPS-only track that starts and ends near Lisbon and Faro airports, covering 310 miles. Most of Rota Vicentina is part of the EuroVelo 1, too.
4. Ecopista do Dão
Enjoy the natural surrounds of the Ecopista do Dão, a converted railway route tracing one of Portugal’s first narrow-gauge railways, which opened in 1890. The paved, traffic-free greenway is arguably one of the country’s easiest cycling routes, making it ideal for families exploring together. It’s one of the most beautiful, too: its 31 miles run through Portugal’s inner Centro region, past vineyards, farms and historic villages. Cycle all or part of the journey to learn about the Dão railway heritage, with former stations forming parts of the route.
5. Grande Rota das Aldeias Historicas
The path linking the villages of Castelo Mendo and Almeida is one of the most interesting segments of the Grande Rota das Aldeiras Historicas, a 373-mile route tying 12 historic settlements in eastern Portugal together in one circular trail. Following the plateaus over the Côa river, this 12-mile section is surrounded by a rocky landscape of low-lying shrubs, with periodic sightings of ancient houses and bridges. A combination of dirt and paved roads, the undulating trail requires a mountain bike and reasonable fitness to complete. Continue along the rest of the route for a multi-day adventure.
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